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Monday, July 22, 2024

Small of My Heart Songwriters Circle is a celebration of women and gender-diverse artists

Madison Violet's Lisa MacIsaac brings the songwriters circle to Halifax on May 25.

In a world where live music experiences are often a predictable sequence of performances, the Small of My Heart Songwriters Circle is a refreshing deviation as it spotlights women and gender-diverse artists. On tour throughout Nova Scotia this spring, the concert series arrives in Halifax on May 25.

There’s a lot of reciprocal energy at songwriter’s circles where the audience gives back just as much as we give them.  – Lisa MacIsaac.

“It’s quite a unique concert experience because it can change even during the performance,” says Lisa MacIsaac, one half of the duo Madison Violet.

“In performances like this, you never really know what you’ll get with the interaction between artists,” she continues. “It keeps you on your toes and is exciting for the artist and the audience because if you come to two shows in a row with the same performers, it will never be the same.”

The genesis of Small of My Heart was born from a collective realization during MacIsaac’s tour discussions a few years ago. She recalls, “I had a conversation about the state of the industry and we all agreed that a change was needed.”

With Madison Violet taking a planned hiatus this year in preparation for its 25th-anniversary tour in 2025, MacIsaac saw an opportunity to lead this change. Her mission was clear: establish equal representation and visibility for women and gender-diverse artists in the music industry.

With that vision, MacIsaac created the nonprofit Banshee Events Co., which she co-founded with Nova Scotia tech entrepreneur and music enthusiast Jamie Whitty. Small of My Heart is the organization’s first initiative. “The talent is there, but the opportunities are not always given to us,” says MacIsaac.

The title, derived from a song by MacIsaac and Madison Violet’s other half, Brenley MacEachern, carries sentimental value as Small of My Heart reflects the idea of carrying a piece of a place or experience with you wherever you go.

“When you leave something, be it a town, a relationship or a friendship, you always leave with a little bit of that in your heart, and that’s what we hope happens at these shows,” says MacIsaac. “There’s a lot of reciprocal energy at songwriter’s circles where the audience gives back just as much as we give them. The goal is to take a little bit of each show back with us home.”

Curating a lineup for such a series is no small feat, but MacIsaac’s extensive experience and connections in the industry made the job easier. “We’ve built up quite a lot of incredibly talented friends,” she says. “So, this is less of a job for me, going on stage with these artists, and more of a homecoming because I get to surround myself with such amazing talent.”

MacIssac will play host to Heather Rankin and Irish Mythen for the Halifax concert. Artists on the other tour stops include Catherine Maclellan, Erin Costelo, Kellie Loder, and Kristen Martell.

With plans to eventually take Small of My Heart nationally, MacIsaac is eager to share the experience with as many as possible. “There’s nothing more exciting than seeing an artist put their heart on their sleeves, and that’s what these artists do,” she says.

Small of My Heart Songwriters Circle comes to The Stage at St Andrews (6036 Coburg Rd, Halifax) on May 25 before moving to Port Hawkesbury the next day. Visit bansheeco.ca for tickets and information.

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